Solving The Four Major Cybersecurity Challenges Faced by Higher Education

Maggie White

Maggie White

Senior Manager, Product Marketing

Protect Student and Faculty Data, and Facilitate Digital Access for Complex Student, Staff, and Alumni Identities With an “Always-Ready” Compliance Posture

Higher education institutions are quite possibly experiencing  more complex identity challenges as they look to modernize identity governance programs than those faced by commercial organizations. The Covid 19 pandemic brought this problem into sharp focus. Administrators had to scale to operate efficiently and anticipate new risks — all without sacrificing students’ digital experience in a new world of 100 percent online education delivery. 

With everything from remote classes, vacated dorms, and virtual graduation ceremonies upsetting the normal ways of working, IT security personnel had their hands full with the demands of a suddenly accelerated digital transformation. For many, the situation revealed the need to move off of legacy, on-premises tools. Adopting a more intelligent, secure, and agile approach makes sense for universities to manage role-specific access for a large population of identities with multiple roles and varying access needs. 

This blog will focus on how a modern IGA solution helps institutions of higher learning tackle four main challenges: identities with multiple roles, different systems for different identities, international clients, and partner organizations. 

The Four Major Cybersecurity Challenges Faced by Higher Education 

Many universities’ identity and security teams are impeded by legacy IGA solutions that create visibility challenges – and can require extensive coding and other manual steps before accounts can be provisioned and de-provisioned. In today’s increasingly cloud-centric and digital-first world, these time-consuming, labor-intensive processes are inefficient, burdensome and create many security risks. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges unique to the university environment.

Identities with Multiple Roles 

At higher education institutions, one individual often has overlapping simultaneous roles, such as student, teaching assistant, teacher, part-time office staff, research assistant. A professor can also be a student, or a student could also be a TA. These identities often originate from different systems, which makes identity lifecycle management even more challenging. De-duplicating identities can be a manual, time-consuming burden. On the other hand, over-provisioning access could compromise private data and intellectual property and increase the risk of insider threats.   

Different Systems for Different Identities

Higher education institutions often use industry-specific platforms such as Jenzabar and Banner or their own home-grown tools for assignments, grades, course registration, and financial planning. User expectations are high. As consumers, we expect instantaneous access if we register on a social media, Starbucks, or consumer banking app. We carry these same expectations in education and workplace settings. Ensuring a good user experience is of utmost importance to many colleges and universities.

This is why many higher education institutions are considering cloud-based identity programs to introduce more agility, scalability, and improved security to keep pace with modernization objectives. Not all cloud-based identity solutions were created equally however. Saviynt IGA was built in the cloud, for the cloud unlike legacy providers who may require customers to maintain some on-premises instances to support various use cases. Saviynt’s single converged platform covers all aspects of Identity Governance including Privilege Access Management, Application Access Governance, Third-Party Access Governance, and Data Access Governance

The Complexities of International Campuses

Some colleges and universities may have campuses in multiple countries with different requirements for security. University leaders must be able to demonstrate that effective security controls are in place and that the institution is complying with a myriad of international regulations. Non-compliance not only means ever-increasing fines and penalties, it also includes loss of reputation, loss of productivity, and lost opportunity costs, hampering the institution’s ability to fundraise

The more complex the legacy identity solution is, the more challenging it is to provide fine-grained access control. Saviynt’s built-in control center unifies identity administration across hybrid and multi-cloud environments, bringing together intelligence, reporting, and dashboarding to enable continuous compliance — in a single pane of glass.

The Need for Interaction with Other Organizations

Many universities have to interact with other organizations such as research institutions, healthcare systems, and government agencies. This not only adds complexity to the management of roles and identities, it also raises the stakes on regulatory compliance, including FISMA, SOX, and GDPR to name a few. In fact, US-based higher education institutions may have to prove compliance to upwards of 250 regulatory bodies.   

These factors create an incredibly complex ecosystem of identities for institutions of higher education. Saviynt IGA solves these problems, empowering identity management teams to contextually attach multiple personas and customized access permissions to a single identity.

How Saviynt Helps

Saviynt cloud-native IGA offers a single, context-aware solution for your entire educational identity ecosystem. We help higher education institutions:

Modernize Identity Governance

Saviynt IGA ensures your users have seamless access to necessary resources on-premises, in the cloud or in hybrid environments. The platform increases organizational efficiency and agility through automation and intuitive identity workflows. It includes an extensive identity warehouse and controls library for risk-based, continuous compliance and security, Saviynt IGA is a core component to secure your shift to the cloud.

Achieve One Identity for Life

Saviynt IGA delivers granular visibility and management of identities and their access across cloud, hybrid, and on-premises environments. With the comprehensive identity warehouse and extensive controls, such as match and merge, identity management teams can contextually attach multiple personas and customized access permissions to a single identity. Saviynt IGA supports complex scenarios like student-staff personas and students accessing alumni networks.

Simplify Compliance

University leaders must be able to demonstrate that effective security controls are being used and that the institution is complying with a myriad of regulations. Our built-in control center unifies identity administration across hybrid and multi-cloud environments, bringing together intelligence, reporting, and dashboarding to enable continuous compliance. You can understand your program’s overall health with complete visibility and key performance indicators for human and machine identities, service health, configurations, and compliance in a single pane of glass. 

Reduce Risk Through Advanced Analytics

Saviynt IGA ingests and exchanges risk data across GRC and risk platforms, including CASB, SIEM, UEBA, and vulnerability management tools to unify and examine risk across users, access, compliance, activity, and endpoints. It enhances compliance decisions and detects new risks concerning data assets, applications, servers, and shadow IT when connected to ITSM or eGRC platforms. Saviynt IGA also automates lifecycle management, prevents risky behaviors, and enhances data-driven security and compliance decisions.

A Converged Approach, Ready for Future Challenges

Saviynt IGA is one of five modules in Saviynt’s Enterprise Identity Cloud (EIC), a cohesive platform to manage your identity perimeter. In addition to IGA, these include application access governance (AAG), third-party access governance (TPAG), cloud privileged access management (CPAM), and data access governance (DAG).

Whether you need to enforce least privilege access, enhance third-party identity management, improve separation of duties (SoD) management, or secure access to sensitive data, Saviynt can help you transform your security posture. 

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